Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

Andrew Bush, Deborah Dash Moore, and MacDonald Moore

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pp. vii-viii

The Rutgers book series Key Words in Jewish Studies seeks to introduce students and scholars alike to vigorous developments in the field by exploring its terms. These words and phrases reference important concepts, issues, practices, events, and circumstances. But terms also refer to standards, even to preconditions; they patrol the boundaries of the field of Jewish studies. This series aims to transform outsiders into insiders and let insiders gain new perspectives on usages, some of which shift even as we apply them....

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Acknowledgements

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pp. ix-xii

This book is inspired by the intellectual nurture of many mentors— including Dina Abramowicz, Zachary Baker, Adrienne Cooper, Lucjan Dobroszycki, Benjamin Harshav, Marvin Herzog, Barbara KirshenblattGimblett, Jack Kugelmass, Dan Miron, Abraham Nowersztern, Beatrice Weinreich—and by scholars and writers whose work has enriched my understanding of the topic at hand: Israel Bartal, Jim Hoberman, Gershon Hundert, Samuel Kassow, Anita Norich, David Roskies, Naomi Seidman, Adam Teller, and Steven Zipperstein, among others. For their kind...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

In Yiddish, shtetl (plural: shtetlekh) simply means “town.” How does such an unassuming word come to loom so large in modern Jewish culture, with a proliferation of uses and connotations? And how has shtetl come to be a key word in Jewish studies? Unlike other key words in this field, shtetl can refer to something that seems very ordinary. As used in Yiddish, a shtetl is not a specifically Jewish locus, not inherently tied to a particular geography inhabited at one time or another by Yiddish speakers, and not readily evident as a phenomenon of Jewish religious, social, cultural, or...

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1. Talk of the Town

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pp. 7-49

The intellectual history of the term shtetl entails two interrelated dynamics: that of Jewish settlement in Eastern Europe and that of shtetl, understood as a Jewish phenomenon, as a subject of discourse among both Jews and others. The first dynamic has its origins in the expansion of Jewish settlement in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the sixteenth century, after the initial migration of Jews from German lands to the Kingdom of Poland in the late Middle Ages. The second dynamic is usually understood as beginning later, during the partitions of Poland in the...

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2. Forsht ayer shtetl!

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pp. 50-92

In the history of Jewish studies, scholarship on the shtetl per se is a relatively recent phenomenon, coalescing in the early twentieth century and flourishing in the post–World War II era. Explicit study of the shtetl follows an extensive and varied precedent of writing about Jews in East European provincial towns that dates back at least to the seventeenth century. This chapter examines the intellectual history of non-belletristic writing about shtetlekh, broadly defined, in order to track both the evolving understanding of the topic and the dynamics of this writing as a...

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3. Shtetl Fabulous

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pp. 93-138

Scholarship and nonfiction writing on the shtetl flourished after World War II alongside an array of other engagements with this subject: fiction, poetry, and plays; musical compositions, works of visual art, films, videos, and other media works; museum exhibitions, festivals, and other tourist productions. At first, many of these endeavors were the work of Jews who had once lived in East European provincial towns, but increasingly these are the efforts of people with no experience of this way of life. Rather, they are projects of the imagination that both rely on older representations...

Notes

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pp. 139-164

Index

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pp. 165-178

About the Author

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pp. 179-180